According to Helen Põllo, director of the Vocational Education Department of the Ministry of Education and Research, the issue of quality, work-based learning and apprenticeships has become increasingly important within the EU’s vocational education field.
“It is important not only for having closer links between education and working life, but also for upskilling adults who are already active on the labor market,” Põllo explained, noting that the key issue is cooperation between vocational education and training schools and employers to ensure that people have the time and motivation to improve their skills.
EU member states’ delegates discussed how to provide better support to teachers and trainers and foster collaboration to improve the quality of vocational education and training. Successful examples from various member states were shared, such as placements of teachers in advanced industries for one day per week, fostering cooperation at the local level between key stakeholders to develop local curriculums, and joint training for vocational education and training teachers and workplace trainers.
It was agreed that all stakeholders need incentives, which may include career development and recognition for teachers and trainers as well as access to grants and interchange to various benefits for companies.
Also discussed at the meeting in Tallinn were possible future scenarios for vocational education and training. Participating delegates agreed that the borders between different sectors of education will fade, as in the future there will be more vocational elements included in general education and higher education and more academic elements in vocational education. It was likewise agreed that teachers and trainers will continue to play a key role in ensuring the quality of learning outcomes and that new teaching methods should be promoted.
Following the meeting, the delegates visited Tallinn Polytechnic School, Tallinn Construction School and Tallinn School of Service to learn about Estonian vocational education institutions. During their visits, the delegates also had the opportunity to participate in decoupage, confectionery and printing workshops.
The Meeting of Directors General for Vocational Education and Training took place in Tallinn as part of the official program of the Estonian presidency of the Council of the EU. The discussions served as input to the meeting of EU Ministers for Education in Brussels to be held on Nov. 20.
The priorities of the Estonian EU presidency include the modernization of teaching and learning on all levels of education, as well as the links between education and working life.